Stage 7: Lannemezan to Tourmalet Bagnères-de-Bignorre — 89.9 km
Date and time: Saturday, July 29, 2023. Official stage start at 16:25, start of live coverage at 15:00 CEST. Predicted finish is around 19:15 CEST.
Stage type: High mountains
What to watch for: An all-out battle for the yellow jersey.
Stage summary: Well, it’s finally here – the stage we’ve all been waiting for. This is the stage that will likely decide the Tour.
In the corresponding stage in last year’s race, Annemiek van Vleuten attacked a long way from the finish, and only Demi Vollering could follow. Eventually Vollering couldn’t follow, though, and Van Vleuten rode away to win the stage (and Tour) by more than three minutes. In the year since, Vollering has taken a huge step up and closed the gap between the pair.
At the Vuelta Femenina in May, Vollering was the better climber, but Van Vleuten has gone up a level since then. On paper, the pair are very evenly matched and it’s difficult to pick a winner.
Watch for Van Vleuten to attack on the Col d’Aspin, to try to use her legendary fatigue resistance to wear Vollering down. And look for Vollering to mark those early moves, before trying to get away herself on the Tourmalet.
If all this makes it sound like stage 7 is a two-horse race that’s because it probably is. Van Vleuten and Vollering are simply a level above the other climbers in the peloton. But hopefully a bunch of other GC favourites will be in the mix as well; riders like Elisa Longo Borghini and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio. One top climber who unfortunately won’t be present: Veronica Ewers, out with a broken collarbone in a stage 6 crash.
Something else to look out for: an early breakaway that gets clear ahead of the climbs. Several teams will be keen to have a rider up the road, so they can fall back and help out their GC leader in the crucial moments. The break will also be of interest to those fighting for the QOM classification – a competition that is still very much alive.
My pick: Annemiek van Vleuten
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